7 January 2009
The sun’s setting later now. Or perhaps I’m just staying outside later, now that the mosquitos have finally become less prolific. Yesterday I took out the headful of braids I had. After an hour and a half of pulling and fighting I gave up and headed out to the marche to buy a new marmite (big cooking pot). The woman selling them wasn’t out, so I sat down with the girl running the sodabi stand across the road. She and I had a good, although necessarily superficial introductory chat, her French is better than most – she was educated in Cote d’Ivoire, but only made it to 4eme (approximately 8th grad).
She helped me get the rest of my braids out and then, as the sun started falling beneath the horizon, led me on a confusing search through a warren of little alleys to find the marmite – seller who still hadn’t emerged with her wares. I carted my bike over low walls and up and down and around tight corners. It made me realize just how atypical and “up and coming” my area of Mission Tove is. My house is on a small side street where 2 families are constructing brand new compounds, a moto mechanic just moved his business, and a new plastics-biscuits-wine shop just opened. There are lots of open spaces and almost every homeowner also has a plot of land to cultivate not far from their living area.
By the time we found the marmite-seller (whose wares were stored in the house approx 5 feet from the little sodabi stand at which I’d passed the last 2 hours), the sun had set. As we picked our way back out of the neighborhood onto the main road, I noticed with considerable surprise just how busy it was. A generator softly whirred, lighting the new bar/cafeteria, five different vendors with little tables lit by kerosene lamps sold food ranging from brochettes to rice and beans. Living relatively far from this area (~5 minutes bike ride) I had very rarely ventured out after dark. I will have to remedy this tendency.
But should I venture out on bike or on foot?
As I rode back home last night, huge marmite strapped to teh back of my bike, I realized belatedly that my bike light is more useful in alerting people around me of my presence than in actually illuminating my path. I couldn’t see the path at all. It’s always bumpy, but something about taking the dips and clunks of potholes blind gave me that elevator-stomach feeling. It was almost a rollercoaster, I had a great adrenaline rush by the time I got home.